The front cover of Location Momentum has a ghostly image in night-vision purple, somewhere between folds of fabric and coils of smoke. Suitably dark and mysterious, it straddles the barrier between the tangible and intangible, between the real and the imagined, much in the manner of the sound it contains. The twelfth release by the individual lurking behind the Eleh name – and you’ve got to wonder just how much longer they can keep up the secrecy – is a continuation down the same path right into the heart of analogue sound. Except that he/she has chosen for the first time to release it on a digital format. The honour of releasing the first ever Eleh CD falls fittingly to sonic obsessives Touch, who also released his/her Observations and Momentum on a split LP late last year.
The change in format feels like some sort of concession to the listener, permitting deeper inspection of the precise application of Eleh’s modus operandi, revealing fresh levels of detail amongst these drones. The preferred method of listening to Eleh is, as ever, to play it loud, letting the waves flood in and fill the space. The sound takes on physical form, a towering structure that the listener can explore at leisure. And what a structure it is: opening piece “Heleneleh” feels like an entire church, with the millisecond after the organist has stopped playing stretched out to twenty minutes. The reverberations shift and mutate at a speed that even death would consider a bit on the unhurried side, occasionally vibrating nearby objects (in my room? In that church of my imagination? Just in my imagination?), causing them to shiver and groan. After this meditative magnificence, the hard hand on the volume control of “Linear To Circular/Vertical Axis” feels particularly brutal, snapping the track into equally-sized but entirely different-sounding slices. Recent Eleh releases have started to hint at an interest in not just sonic phenomena, but in the sonic phenomena of nature itself. “Circle One: Summer Transcience” takes some of the high-pitched insect-like chirp last heard on Retreat/Return and sets it amongst the most gentle gasps of wind, before these mutate into sinister-sounding gaseous hisses on “Observation Wheel”. Such interests make his/her – and I’ll tire of writing that before too many more releases – current relocation to the Touch stable, where they will share hay with the likes of Chris Watson and BJ Nilsen, seem all the more appropriate.
The release of this collection of microscopic events is an event in itself, for given that this will be the first full Eleh album not given a hideously-limited release, it is likely to be the starting point for many. It is an excellent introduction to someone who has risen with utmost stealth and secrecy to a position of pre-eminence in his/her (sigh) field, for there is no-one else who can make so little sound like so so much.